Wake Forest Baptist’s Advanced Cardiac Care and Transplant Program Receives Specialty Certification from National Organization

August 23, 2011

The Advanced Cardiac Care and Transplant Program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has earned an advanced specialty certification from the nation’s leading evaluator of health care institutions.

The Joint Commission has awarded Advanced Certification to Wake Forest Baptist’s ventricular assist device (VAD) program, formally recognizing its compliance with and commitment to consensus-based national standards for quality care and safety in a specific clinical area.

Wake Forest Baptist is one of 98 hospitals in the country and one of four in North Carolina to hold Advanced Certification in VAD, which is required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for hospitals to be eligible for reimbursement for these procedures.

“This designation by The Joint Commission recognizes our commitment to the highest level of care for our patients,” said Vinay Thohan, M.D., medical director of heart transplant/VAD at Wake Forest Baptist. “This program offers advanced heart failure patients in our region the best, most up-to-date treatment options. The certification is a well-deserved honor for everyone associated with our VAD program.”

A ventricular assist device is a mechanical pumping apparatus that is used to support heart function and blood flow in people with weakened or failing hearts. A VAD takes blood from one or both of the heart’s lower chambers, or ventricles, and helps pump it throughout the patient’s body. (VADs are not to be confused with artificial hearts, which assume all cardiac functions, usually after a patient’s heart is removed.)

A VAD can be used after surgery to help keep a patient’s blood flowing properly until the heart recovers, as a bridge therapy for an individual awaiting a heart transplant, or as a destination therapy that sustains long-term blood-flow function in a person who is not a candidate for a heart transplant.

VAD is one of five clinical areas in which The Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization founded in 1951, awards Advanced Certification. Wake Forest Baptist also holds Advanced Certification in one other area, stroke (primary stroke center).

Wake Forest Baptist also has earned Disease-Specific Care Certification from The Joint Commission in four clinical areas: acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart failure, knee replacement and hip replacement.

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